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What is a pivot county and why is it important for this election?

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DUNN COUNTY (WQOW) – Election Day 2020 is here and all eyes are on Wisconsin to find out who will be the next president of the United States.

There are 206 counties nationwide which are considered pivot counties, meaning they flipped between voting Democrat and Republican in recent elections.

Of those, 23 are in Wisconsin and five of them surround Eau Claire.

In 2016, the 23 pivot counties in Wisconsin voted for Republican Donald Trump after voting for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Here in the Chippewa Valley; Dunn, Buffalo, Jackson, Pepin and Trempealeau are considered pivot counties.

“Given the last election, it was about 2,000 votes different between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Some of those votes were coming from these counties that we call pivot counties,” said Kim Zagorski, a political science professor and chair of the social science department at UW-Stout.

More than 11,000 Dunn County residents voted for Donald Trump in 2016 versus about 9,000 for Hillary Clinton. However, Obama won the county in both 2008 and 2012.

Although it’s not a guarantee, Zagorski said past electoral behavior could help predict how counties like Dunn will sway in 2020.

“We could look at how those counties voted in the gubernatorial elections to give us an idea because when we’re looking at how the governor is elected, it’s a popular vote,” Zagorski said.

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